[The following report was issued by Human Rights Watch on 13 June 2018.]
New York) – Israeli forces’ repeated use of lethal force in the Gaza Strip since 30 March 2018, against Palestinian demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to life may amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli forces have killed more than one hundred protesters in Gaza and wounded thousands with live ammunition.
The United Nations General Assembly should support a resolution that calls for exploring measures to guarantee the protection of Palestinians in Gaza, and a UN inquiry mandated to investigate all violations and abuses should identify Israeli officials responsible for issuing unlawful open-fire orders. The killings also highlight the need for the International Criminal Court to open a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine. Third countries should impose targeted sanctions against officials responsible for ongoing serious human rights violations.
“Israel’s use of lethal force when there was no imminent threat to life has taken a heavy toll in life and limb,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The international community needs to rip up the old playbook, where Israel conducts investigations that mainly whitewash the conduct of its troops and the United States blocks international accountability with its Security Council veto, and instead impose real costs for such blatant disregard for Palestinian lives.”
Kuwait has brought a resolution to the UN General Assembly that deplores Israel’s use of live ammunition against protesters in Gaza, as well as rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups at Israeli population centers, and calls for an end to the closure of Gaza and for the UN Secretary General to consider options to better protect Palestinians in Gaza. Kuwait sought General Assembly action after the United States vetoed this resolution at the Security Council on 1 June.
Human Rights Watch interviewed nine people who witnessed Israeli forces shooting protesters in Gaza on 14 May, the day with the highest toll of deaths and injuries so far when more than sixty people were killed, and another who saw a journalist shot and killed on 6 April. Seven of these interviewees not only witnessed people being shot, but were also themselves shot. The shootings happened at places where protests were held near the perimeter fences that separate the Gaza Strip from Israel, including east of Jabalya, Gaza City, Khan Yunis, and Rafah. Their accounts, along with photographs and videos, show a pattern of Israeli forces shooting people who posed no imminent threat to life with live ammunition. Israel should pay adequate compensation in all cases in which its forces unlawfully shot people or killed their family members.
Six of the witnesses Human Rights Watch interviewed said they were two hundred to three hundred meters from the two parallel fences, that in most places separate Gaza’s eastern periphery and Israel, on 14 May when Israeli forces shot them or people close to them with live ammunition. The victims include journalists, civil defense workers, and volunteers trying to evacuate the wounded, and a child running away from the fences.
Three other witnesses said that soldiers shot them when they were between thirty and forty meters from the fences. These three include a fourteen-year-old boy and a forty-eight-year-old man, shot in separate incidents, who said they had not thrown stones or otherwise tried to harm Israeli soldiers. A third man said he had approached the fences and thrown stones at Israeli forces, but that he was shot later, while attempting to evacuate another man who was shot and wounded. The accounts are consistent with numerous news reports and videos that show Palestinians being shot while standing still or running away from the fences.
Those that Human Rights Watch interviewed said most of the shooting incidents they witnessed during the 14 May protests involved Israeli forces shooting people in the legs. However, witnesses also described seven additional cases in which Israeli forces shot protesters who posed no imminent threat to life in the upper body, indicating that Israeli soldiers may have intended to kill them. One witness said he was shot in the back at a distance of two hundred meters from the fences, with the bullet exiting his chest. Another said he saw a civil defense worker fatally shot in the chest two hundred meters from the fences. Another witness said he saw a man in his fifties who was shot in the head when he approached to within fifteen meters of the fences while holding a Palestinian flag. Two witnesses said they saw a man who was fatally shot in the head while being evacuated from close to the fences after being shot in the arm.
From 30 March to 8 June, Palestinians have engaged in weekly demonstrations near the fences between Gaza and Israel to protest against the eleven-year closure of Gaza and to commemorate the expulsion and flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees when Israel was established in 1948. Protests held on 14 May were also against the opening of the US embassy that day in Jerusalem. During the protests in this period, Israeli forces fired on demonstrators and killed 118 people during demonstrations, including fourteen children, and wounded 3,895 with live ammunition who required hospitalization. At least forty have needed to have limbs amputated, and hundreds more suffered severe injuries, medical officials reported.
The Israeli closure of Gaza, backed by Egypt, as well as disputes over funding between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have left medical facilities struggling to operate due to severe lack of electricity and essential drugs, medical disposables, and equipment. Doctors in Gaza have told Physicians for Human Rights–Israel they are powerless to provide needed treatment to many wounded patients. Israeli military authorities should reverse their policy of denying medical exit permits for Palestinians wounded in the protests. The Palestinian Authority should promptly issue required approvals for patients’ medical treatment.
During the weekly protests, the Israeli military shot and killed protestors on the basis of a policy, according to public statements by Israeli officials and a submission to Israel’s supreme court, to use live ammunition against people who approached or attempted to cross or damage the fences. Israeli leaders rejected repeated calls from the United Nations and the European Union and petitions by human rights groups to change those orders and praised the military’s actions.
Israeli officials, including military commanders, apparently greenlighted the use of live ammunition against demonstrators. The officials include the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The vast majority of protesters were unarmed. Some threw rocks and “Molotov cocktails” (improvised gasoline bombs), used slingshots to hurl projectiles, launched kites with incendiary materials, and sought to damage the fences between Gaza and Israel. In one instance, four armed men fired at Israeli soldiers during a protest in northern Gaza on 14 May, a witness said.
The United Nations reported that four Israeli soldiers have been wounded during the Gaza protests from 30 March to 7 June, the first of whom was a soldier lightly wounded on 14 May. An Israeli military spokesperson told the Guardian that no one had crossed the fences on 14 May. “Our troops have not taken any sustained direct fire,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
International human rights law standards on the use of force, which apply to law enforcement situations such as the Gaza protests, permit the use of live ammunition only as a last resort to prevent the imminent threat of death or serious injury. Israeli officials explicitly rejected human rights standards and argued that live ammunition was necessary to stop protesters from breaching the fences, because Hamas organized the protests so armed fighters could exploit the breaches to kill or capture soldiers or civilians. The use of live ammunition cannot be justified by automatically deeming every Palestinian who attempts to breach the fences to be an imminent threat to life, and in fact Israeli forces also shot medics, journalists, children, and others who were hundreds of meters away from the fences, Human Rights Watch said. In addition, because Palestinians in Gaza are entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions as an occupied people, any wilful killing of them would constitute a war crime.
A senior Israeli military official told the Washington Post that the only weapons Israeli forces used were live ammunition and tear-gas, not water cannon or other measures that Israel uses in the West Bank, which the official said lacked adequate range.
In addition to the barbed wire fence separating Gaza and Israel, the two-meter-high fencing with electronic sensors, ditches, and military watchtowers along the Gaza periphery, in 2015 the Israeli military built fences around twelve Israeli communities near Gaza with electronic sensors that detect any contact with the fence and automatically alert the military. This further undercuts the claim that the protesters posed an imminent treat.
Photographs, videos, and statements by surgeons indicate that Israeli forces fired on protestors using military assault rifles that fire bullets at high velocity. Medical journal articles, including by Israel Defense Forces trauma surgeons, have documented that gunshot wounds from assault-rifle bullets cause severe soft tissue damage, have a high incidence of complications, and that “any delay at the scene of injury might jeopardize limb survival.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is examining alleged serious crimes committed in Palestine since 13 June 2014, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. On 22 May, Palestine submitted a “referral” requesting the prosecutor investigate crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction, including crimes against humanity and the war crimes of willfully killing or willfully “causing great suffering, or serious injury” to civilians and the residents of an occupied territory. Crimes against humanity are criminal acts committed on a widespread or systematic basis as part of an “attack on a civilian population,” involving a plan or policy to commit the crime. Such acts include murder, persecution on political grounds, and “other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health,” according to the Rome Statute.
Given strong evidence that serious crimes have been committed in Palestine since 2014, including new population transfers into occupied territories, Human Rights Watch has called on Bensouda to open a formal probe consistent with the ICC’s Rome Statute.
“Impunity for unlawfully killing and maiming people in Gaza risks continuing the cycle where still more lives and families will be torn apart in the future,” Whitson said. “The UN Human Rights Council inquiry should identify and call for sanctions against officials implicated in ongoing serious human rights violations.”
The Gaza Protests and Israel’s Use of Live Ammunition
Palestinians have held weekly protests beginning on 30 March near the fences along the eastern perimeter of the Gaza Strip. The protests were against Israel’s eleven-year closure of the Gaza Strip and to commemorate the expulsion and flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during Israel’s establishment, which Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”
Dr. Ayman al-Sahabani, the head of the emergency department at al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, told Human Rights Watch that on 14 May alone the hospital received about five hundred patients, most with bullet wounds to the legs, and eighteen people who were dead on arrival. The emergency department’s capacity is twenty beds.
Many of the injuries are life-changing, according to medical personnel. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) stated on 19 April that their clinics in Gaza had treated more than 250 people “where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone,” many of whom would require additional surgery. From 30 March to 23 May, forty people shot by Israeli forces, including at least three children, needed a limb amputated, ten of whom lost a leg above the knee, according to information reported by the Gaza Health Ministry and other medical sources to the World Health Organization.
Prior to the first mass weekly demonstration in Gaza on 30 March, the Israeli government security cabinet–which consists of the prime minister, defense minister, and other senior officials–held two meetings to discuss the army’s planned response. The Israeli military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, briefed the security cabinet and later told Israeli media that “a big portion of the army” as well as more than one hundred snipers would be present and that “the orders are to use a lot of force.” On 29 March, Netanyahu’s Arabic spokesman posted a video of a man shot in the leg, stating, “This is the least that anyone who tries to cross the security fence between Gaza and Israel will face.”
On 30 March, the Israeli military, using live ammunition, killed seventeen Palestinians, twelve of them demonstrators, and wounded hundreds. The next day, the chairperson of Meretz, a left-leaning Israeli political party, the European Union, and the UN secretary-general separately called for an independent investigation into the events. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected those calls and said that “the IDF soldiers” at the Gaza fences “have my full backing.” Netanyahu thanked “our soldiers who are protecting the country’s borders.”
Protesters announced further demonstrations for the following Friday, 6 April. Ahead of those protests, an Israeli military spokesperson stated that people “could potentially be shot” if they approached the fences or tried to damage them, and Lieberman stated that “anyone who comes close to the fence endangers his life.” During the 6 April protests, the Israeli military killed nine Palestinians in Gaza and injured hundreds more, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, which had called on soldiers to disobey unlawful orders to fire on protesters who posed no threat to life. At a cabinet meeting on 11 April, Netanyahu chastised critics of the military’s actions and said “we will give [Israeli soldiers] all the backing they need to do their holy work.”
International Law and Israeli Claims
The use of force outside of active armed conflict is governed by international human rights standards set out in the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. These standards, which apply to the Gaza demonstrations, prohibit shooting live ammunition except to prevent “the imminent threat of death or serious injury” or “the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life,” and “only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.”
The military did not publish its rules of engagement, but Israel’s state attorney disclosed some information in a 29 April response to a petition by Israeli human rights groups against the military’s use of lethal force against demonstrators in Gaza. The government response rejected applying human rights law applicable in law enforcement to the demonstrations, and claimed that only international humanitarian law, applicable in fighting in armed conflicts, applies, because the protests were “organized, coordinated, and directed by Hamas, a terrorist organization engaged in armed conflict with Israel.” However, even where the laws of armed conflict on targeting do apply, in any case where there is doubt as to a person’s civilian status, they must be presumed to be a civilian and may not be targeted.
Israeli officials argued that Hamas directed protesters to cross the fences so that armed fighters could run through the breach to kill or kidnap Israeli civilians or soldiers. The Israeli military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said on 15 May that there was “no dilemma” in deciding between “having a lower amount of Palestinian casualties,” and using lethal force in order to “defend Israeli communities immediately behind the [Gaza perimeter fences].” The government’s 29 April court response elaborated that soldiers could use “potentially lethal force” to prevent protesters from breaching the fences and crossing from Gaza to Israel if “the evaluation is that the force is necessary at that time to remove the danger before it is realized, even if the danger itself has not yet become imminent,” and that shooting demonstrators before they reach the fences is justified because if crowds breached them, it would “operationally require live fire on a massive scale.”
In its efforts to justify the use of live ammunition to prevent Palestinians from crossing the fences, the government claimed in court to be following an open-fire policy that does not appear to account for the amounts of live ammunition used. The government stated to Israel’s supreme court that the orders only permit “accurate shooting towards the legs of a ‘major agitator or instigator’,” after giving verbal warnings and using non-lethal means to disperse demonstrations, “as a last resort only and subject to stringent requirements” of proportionality. The government stated that the orders do not permit live fire against a person because he is near the fences, took part in demonstrations, or supports Hamas.
In fact, Israeli forces appear to have routinely exceeded these restrictions, firing from behind sand mounds and the fences separating Gaza and Israel at demonstrators in many cases more than two hundred meters away.
Netanyahu referred to a 15 May statement by a Hamas leader, Salah al-Bardawil, that fifty of sixty-two people killed by Israeli forces on 14 May were Hamas members–“in other words, members of a terrorist organization,” Netanyahu said. Israeli military and political officials also claimed that Hamas “strategically placed [civilians] in harm’s way” because graphic media coverage of their injuries would harm Israel’s image. Hamas’s encouragement of and support for the protests and the participation of Hamas members in the protests do not justify the use of live ammunition against protestors who posed no threat to life.
On 25 May, Israel’s supreme court rejected petitions by human rights groups against the military’s live-fire orders without applying the clear standard on the use of lethal force set out in international human rights law, and substantially deferring to the government’s discretion. The court’s unwillingness to apply international law and to challenge a policy that authorizes lethal force even when there is no imminent threat to life highlights the importance of the International Criminal Court prosecutor opening a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.
Palestinians in Gaza are protected persons under the Geneva Conventions. Willful killings of protected persons by the occupying power outside what is permissible under human rights standards would constitute a grave breach of the laws of occupation. The prohibition of war crimes and crimes against humanity can be the basis for individual criminal liability in international courts, as well as in domestic courts in many countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Accounts from Witnesses
In total, from 30 March to 2 June, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that hospitals in Gaza received 530 Palestinians who were wounded in the head or neck, and 311 in the chest or back. News media reported that a fourteen-year-old girl who had tried to breach the fences with wire-cutters was fatally shot in the head.
The protesters were separated from the soldiers by the two fences and electronic sensors. Protesters had reached and torn down some of the barbed wire fence on 27 April, and witnesses at the 14 May protests said that some protesters had cut or damaged sections of the barbed wire fence east of Gaza City, but that none had reached the electric fence beyond it.
One witness said he was aware of a person who had joined the 14 May protests while carrying a firearm, but apparently did not fire it because members of Hamas warned him that doing so could prompt Israeli soldiers to target the area. Another man said that four members of an armed group had attempted to attack Israeli forces east of Jabalya, by concealing guns until they reached the first fence, where they fired at Israeli forces positioned behind sand mounds about eighty meters away, before being shot fatally. Israeli forces killed at least seventeen people in that area on 14 May. Israeli concerns that members of armed groups would use the protests as cover to fire at Israeli soldiers or plant explosives near the fences do not justify the repeated use of live ammunition, including with apparent lethal intent, against protesters who posed no imminent lethal threat, Human Rights Watch said.
Witnesses consistently described the positioning of Israeli soldiers across the fences that separate Israel and Gaza, atop large earthen mounds overlooking the area where protesters congregated. The mounds were ten to thirty meters apart, with five to ten soldiers on each one. The Palestinian rights group al-Mezan reported that Israeli forces entered Gaza at 3 a.m. on 14 May and leveled the land in front of the fences in multiple areas, apparently to eliminate protestors’ cover.
A freelance photojournalist, Mahmoud Abu Salama, thirty-three, was covering demonstrations in an area east of Jabalya called Abu Safiyya, in the northern Gaza Strip, about two hundred meters from the fences, where he saw a man shot in the groin at around noon on 14 May, and a boy shot in the leg at about 3:30 p.m. Human Rights Watch has a photo he took of the boy. Abu Salama said:
I still hear the voices of people who were screaming after being shot. One man was launching stones with a slingshot, he was just a meter-and-a-half from me when he was shot in the groin. He was bleeding so badly that the paramedics did not know how to deal with him, his face color went between yellow and blue. The boy was also close to me when he was shot in his leg. I saw him while he was escaping from the teargas and running away with his back to the fence when they shot him.
Mohammad Meqdad, thirty-nine, a civil defense worker, spoke to Human Rights Watch while awaiting surgery at al-Shifa hospital on 15 May. Wearing an orange, reflective vest, like other civil defense workers, he had been evacuating wounded people east of Gaza City to ambulances throughout the morning on 14 May, he said. At around 1:30 p.m., he was walking back toward the fences after evacuating a casualty, and was about three hundred meters away when he was shot in the leg:
My face was toward the fence. I was able to see soldiers on hills of sand and those hills were higher [on 14 May] than they were on previous protest days. On each of the hills, there were about ten soldiers. There were guys closer to the fence who were burning tires, chanting for Jerusalem, and throwing stones, but others were shot who were much farther away. The last people I evacuated before I was shot were three women, all in their late twenties, who were shot in the neck or in the head. They had been carrying flags and chanting, they were in a group of women that was about 150 meters from the fence, behind a group of men who were closer than they were to the fence. I evacuated one, and then another got shot, and then the other, over five or ten minutes. One of them died immediately, but I do not know what happened to the other two.
Mohaweya al-Ay, a twenty-year-old student from the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City, spoke to Human Rights Watch on 17 May, after surgery at al-Shifa hospital. He said that he had been helping three civil defense workers evacuate wounded protesters east of Gaza City at 1 p.m. on 14 May when Israeli forces fatally shot one of the civil defense workers, Mousa Abu Hassanein, in the chest. They were about two hundred meters from the fences at the time, al-Ay said. A Canadian doctor, Tarek Loubani, told Human Rights Watch that Abu Hassanein had helped rescue him when he was shot in the legs about an hour before Abu Hassanein was killed. The Palestinian rights group al-Mezan reported that four paramedics were shot with live ammunition on 14 May. On 1 June, Israeli forces shot Razan al-Najjar in the chest, while the twenty-one-year-old volunteer paramedic was wearing a white coat and treating wounded people at that day’s protest. The Israeli army has said “no shots were deliberately or directly aimed towards her.”
Al-Ay was shot in the back later that afternoon in the same area, while he was trying to reach a young man who had been shot, who he later learned was an eighteen-year-old named Ahmad al-Zarqa:
I saw a man was bleeding and walked toward him slowly. My back was toward the fence, no one was around me, throwing stones or anything else. Then a bullet hit my back from the right side and exited through my chest. I was about two hundred meters away from the fence. There were no ambulances, they could not come to us because of the shooting. Two civil defense men were near me and pulled me behind a wall [for cover from gunfire], and another guy took my phone and called my family.
Al-Ay said that he did not burn tires or throw stones. Israeli forces in that area had begun firing earlier in the day on a group of protesters who had reached the barbed-wire fence, tied a rope to it, and begun to pull it away, he said: “No one reached the electric fence. There were a large number of martyrs. The soldiers were on high hills of dirt and the first shootings were toward the top of people’s heads.”
The International Federation of Journalists identified nine journalists who were wounded on 14 May, including photojournalist Farhan Abu Hadayed, twenty-six, who was shot at around noon. He and two other witnesses, whom Human Rights Watch interviewed separately, said that he was about 150 meters from the fences wearing a flak jacket marked “Press” when he was shot in the leg. Abu Hadayed said that about fifteen journalists had begun to follow a large group of demonstrators who were walking in the direction of the fences when “without any prior warning, and no firing of tear gas, they shot four people in the legs, and I was the fifth.”
A freelance photojournalist, Mohammad Qandil, said he also saw the shooting and held onto Abu Hadayed’s camera when he was evacuated to an ambulance. Abu Hadayed had gone to the protests with Ramzi al-Shakhreet, the supervisor at his media company, Truth Pioneers Network. Al-Shakreet, thirty-four, said he was five meters away when Abu Hadayed was shot, and that “there was a clear line of sight from him to the soldiers at the fence. He was shot while he was taking photos.”
Al-Shakhreet also told Human Rights Watch that he saw two other protesters shot at around 1 p.m. A man in his fifties had approached to within fifteen meters of the steel fence, waving a Palestinian flag, when he was shot in the head and apparently died instantly. A man in his mid-twenties was about 150 meters from the fences when he was shot in the left leg: “He was seven or eight meters from me, I was to his right side, and he was shot while standing in the middle of the group of protesters, not doing anything except watching,” said al-Shakreet.
On 6 April, Israeli forces had fatally shot another journalist, Yasser Murtaja, in the abdomen between 1:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon while he was covering demonstrations east of Khan Yunis. Another journalist, Muthana al-Najar, said that Murtaja “stepped forward to film someone who was injured on the ground, he had just turned to his right when he was shot in the left side of his waist.” Al-Najar said that there was thick smoke near the fences because protesters had been burning tires, but that he had a clear view of some snipers on a hill of dirt on the opposite side of the fences. Murtaja was more than two hundred meters from the fences and was wearing a vest marked “Press” when he was shot. Murtaja was holding a digital camera and had told al-Najar he was filming a documentary about the weekly demonstrations. The Israeli military has opened an internal inquiry into some specific deaths, including Murtaja’s.
Human Rights Watch interviewed Abd el-Rahman Abu Qamar, a fourteen-year-old boy, at his bedside at al-Shifa hospital on 17 May. He said he was running away from teargas and shooting and was about two hundred meters from the fences east of Gaza City when he was shot in the leg at about 2 p.m. on 14 May. His brother, Malek, eighteen, who went with his brother to the demonstration, said they were in a large group “chanting for Jerusalem.” Malek said Israeli forces fired on the group and he hit the ground to avoid the bullets, and then saw a paramedic and a civil defense worker evacuating Abd el-Rahman.
Defense for Children International-Palestine reported the names of six boys and a girl who were killed with live ammunition on 14 May, the youngest being thirteen-year-old Izz al-Samak. Five were shot in the head or neck, and two in the abdomen.
Samer Nasser, twenty-three, said he was part of a group east of Jabalya that was throwing stones and trying to approach the barbed-wire fence to cut it with wire-cutters when a man near him was shot in the arm. Nasser had driven a “tuk tuk,” a three-wheeled motorized vehicle, to the area. He loaded the wounded man onto it and was driving away to reach medical treatment when Israeli forces “started shooting heavily,” Nasser said. “The injured man in my tuk tuk was shot again in the head and immediately died, and I was shot in the thigh. I was bleeding for fifteen minutes, and had to crawl until I reached a woman who helped me.”
Human Rights Watch obtained a video from another Gaza resident, Jamil Barakat, who said he filmed the woman who helped Nasser. In the video she is shown seeking cover behind a rock, gesturing to Nasser and encouraging him to crawl toward her. Barakat was also taking shelter behind the rock. “We were luckily not shot, but we were unable to move forward or backward for half an hour because they opened fire at us,” Barakat said. Barakat confirmed that the wounded man whom Nasser had put on his tuk tuk died before he could be evacuated. Nasser said that he participated in the demonstration to protest the US embassy move to Jerusalem (which happened on the same day as the 14 May protest), and Israel’s closure of Gaza.
Maher Harara, a forty-eight-year-old from al-Shujaiya, a neighborhood east of Gaza City, said he saw a woman’s finger shot off as she was making a victory sign while facing the fences east of Gaza City at around 1 p.m. on 14 May. She was about forty meters from the fences. Harara was himself shot a few hours later. He had attended each of the protests since 30 March without being injured but was shot in his left leg at about 5 p.m. on 14 May in the same area, forty meters from the fences: “I was not holding anything, even my mobile phone was in my pocket, and I was standing by myself, but maybe they shot me because I was wearing black trousers and a black t-shirt so they thought I was a leader, but I was not.”
An eighteen-year-old youth said he was shot in the ankle in the Malaka area east of Gaza City, about thirty meters from the fences, in the afternoon of 14 May:
There were about fifty people in front of me, they were the front group of protesters. I was watching them. Suddenly I fell down on the ground, shot in the leg. I was completely peaceful, doing nothing, just there because of the situation [the opening of the US embassy] in Jerusalem. I stood behind the main group assuming that would be safe, but they hit me. Around me there were a few guys throwing stones, and others burning tires, flying kites, and using slingshots. I also saw an old man get shot in his leg, he was fifteen meters in front of me toward the fence, but also just standing and watching.